Best royalty-free photo sites

best royalty-free photo sites

If you're just starting a small biz, you know that a website is a must! You may also want to add fun images to your social media plan but you have NO BUDGET for that! Shutterstock and iStock are great resources for images but most of the plans make my business bank account want to cry. 

Did you know there are a ton of photo sharing signs dedicated to all things royalty-free? For a freelancer who needs an image for a blog post or pitch or a small biz looking to stock their site with beautiful photography, images are a must. But, we don't have a budget for images like the big corporate folks do. Also, if you are a freelance photographer and are looking to publish some of your work (for free though), you may consider contributing to some of these sites. Below are a few of my favorites:

  • Pexels is my number 1 go to! I've used it for super creative projects and general business admin stuff. It has everything - including video!! 
  • Unsplash is my number 2. Sometimes you'll notice an overlap on Unsplash and Pexel but it's still my backup for fabulous free photos. 
  • Gratisography is a quirky, weird but cool, site. It's not my first stop when working on projects. But, if you're looking for something unique or just want to dive down the image rabbit hole, this is a fun site to explore. 

Public Domain

Government sites are a gem that most people don't think about. Because the government may have paid the person taking the photograph, as either a legit fed or contractor, most of that media is made available through public domain. If you are looking for a #penguinday photo or #wildlifewednesday image for your social media calendar planning, try some of my favorite government sites. Side note: be sure to check the photo credit requirements. Some may be only available for editorial purposes and most need to be credited to the photographer. 


If you're a designer and are looking for some awesome free vectors, here's a great list of free sites for those. 

Any sites I missed?